In the early 1960s, a congregational meeting was held in my small Missionary Baptist Church near Perry, GA. A deacon told us that Negroes had tried to enter some white churches in Perry. This meeting was to decide what we would do if that happened here.
I recall there was a discussion, with adult members speaking their minds. Only one couple spoke up to say we would be wrong to turn anyone away from our doors. A vote by the adults was taken, and the plan for turning Negroes away from our doors was adopted.
I was stunned by this decision. This church had been a big part of my life. I was in the Girls’ Auxiliary. We raised money for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to send missionaries to Africa and other parts of the world. I also wanted to become a missionary to go tell these people about Jesus, so they would not be condemned to hell.
On the day of this vote, I crossed a threshold into a frightening place. Why would we refuse to let anyone into our church? I began to question all the things I had been taught there, and decided religion would no longer be a part of my life.
But, after my mother’s sudden death, I felt a void in my life. A friend told me about the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. I visited there several times, but it was a long drive from Loganville. Then I heard some people were going to start a UU congregation in Gwinnett County. Dave and I joined this group, and crossed a threshold into a congregation where the inherent worth and dignity of all is respected. We are welcomed here – we are home!